Let me start by saying, "this is not my typical educational blog post."
Today in class, while reading The Scarlet Letter, my students became very heated over the fact that little Pearl was punished nearly equal to her mother by standing with Hester on pillory, though she was guiltless of any wrongdoing. She was punished for being a kid.
This discussion led to the arguments of whether it was romantic and loving for Hester to stay in the town that her beloved and father of her child was residing or was it selfish of her not to put her child first.
In trying to make the argument that the case of Hester and Arthur Dimmesdale was quite different from mine, but I always put my spouse first. This clearly was not met with an ecstatic response from my students. Now granted, Dimmesdale and Hester were not married, they did not have a traditional relationship by any stretch of the imagination, and we do not currently live in a theocracy as was present in early Puritan Massachusetts. Rather than get into a discussion that drifted from the content and state standards I agreed to continue the topic as blog post. So this blog post is based on questions from my students and a true desire to understand why my incredible wife, Melissa, and I conduct our marriage the way we do and why we have found the success we have as a couple.
First, marriage is something we work at every single day and we are incredibly proud of that work. It is special, extraordinary, and we want it to last forever so we treat our marriage the greatest and most precious item we posses, because it is.
Melissa and I have been together for over 21 years (That is more than half of her life. May 7th of 2020 will mark being with her longer than I was without her). Like many our age, our lives are consumed by the logistical juggling act of running a household with three daughters, managing our teaching careers (yes, we are both teachers), keeping our numerous cats and dogs happy and well, and planning lessons and caring for all students who enter our classrooms. Oh!...and then there are the extra-curricular activities we lead like students council, tennis, directing numerous theatrical productions a year, all while making sure we schedule time for each other. Indeed, our lives are impossibly busy. But at the top of all our priorities, we list loving our kids and right above that is our marriage.
When Melissa and I were dating and began talking of marriage we decided then and there that our marriage and our faith would provide the foundation for everything that we build together. Long before we made our vows over the marriage alter we made a vow to each other over a chicken finger basket at the Dairy Queen. We would always put each other first. Over career, over parents, over family, and yes, even over our kids. Now please, do not get this statement wrong or interpret it as anything other than what it is. We were not saying we would put our marriage first at the expense of our other obligations, but rather we are prioritizing what is most important so we can make the other priorities in our lives better because of our love for each other.
To put it simply; the greatest gift I can give my daughters is for them to see a husband who loves his wife and puts her first. I want them to find a man who loves them in the same way.
If I were not to put my wife first then it becomes easy for anything else to fill that spot. If my kids are first then what happens they when all grow up and move out? If I have put my wife lower on the list during that time, then suddenly try to move her back to the top of my priority list I imagine it would not be met with the greatest reception.
If I put work, my career, or anything else as my top priority then what was the point of getting married in the first place? I want to be with Melissa forever. If I put my career first then my spouse becomes little more than a roommate.
And even more damaging, if I do not put my wife first then that leaves the door open for another woman to come along and fill that spot. By keeping my wife at the top of my priority list it keeps my romantic heart solely dedicated to her and no one else.
My wife is truly the best part of me and I will always treat and love her in a manner to reflect that fact.